KIRKLAND — Four additional residents from Life Care Center of Kirkland have been hospitalized and four more have left the nursing home at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. for other reasons.
Only 55 residents remain at the post-acute care center, which had 120 residents as of Feb. 19, Life Care spokesman Tim Killian said at a Sunday news conference outside the facility.
At least 13 Life Care residents who have died after being taken to hospitals have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, Killian said.
That tally didn’t include two additional deaths reported Sunday by Public Health – Seattle & King County shortly before Life Care’s news conference, Killian said.
“We are trying to verify that,” he said.
Killian’s tally also didn’t include the death of a person identified by King County as a Life Care visitor.
Also Sunday afternoon, Washington Department of Health officials reported there were 136 novel coronavirus cases in the state, including 18 deaths. A 19th death was confirmed later Sunday by health officials in Grant County.
Of the state’s 19 confirmed fatalities, 16 have been associated with Life Care Center, a King County statement said.
King County has seen 83 cases and 17 deaths and Snohomish County has seen 31 cases and one death, according to the state Department of Health’s most recent numbers. Pierce County has reported four cases, and one case has been reported each in Grant, Jefferson, Clark, Kittitas and Spokane counties. Another 13 cases haven’t yet been assigned to a county.
The two Life Care residents to die most recently were a woman in her 80s and a man in his 90s, according to King County.
Killian said one resident’s illness progressed at lightning speed. “We have seen as little as one hour from somebody exhibiting no symptoms, going to symptoms that were severe enough they needed to be transferred to a hospital, and then within a short amount of time that patient dying,” Killian said. That case isn’t necessarily representative, he said, “But it was surprising and shocking to us that we have seen that level of escalation of symptoms.”
Eleven additional Life Care residents have died in the facility since Feb. 19, but the nursing home doesn’t know whether their deaths were related to COVID-19, Killian said.
Life Care has received enough test kits to test every patient still in the nursing home and has completed 44 tests, leaving 11 to still be completed, Killian said.
No results from the 44 completed tests have yet been reported back to Life Care, he said. Six current residents have COVID-19 symptoms, he said.
As he reported Saturday, Killian said Sunday that 70 of 180 Life Care employees have symptoms; the symptomatic employees are no longer working in the facility. Three have been hospitalized, he said in an update. Life Care hasn’t been involved in testing its symptomatic employees, he said.
“We feel like we’re still in triage mode,” Killian said.
Life Care employees have adequate equipment and supplies, thanks to deliveries by various public agencies.
Cathleen Lombard, a nurse who usually works at Life Care’s Puyallup nursing home but has been helping out at the Kirkland facility, said some residents are struggling emotionally, while others are dealing with dementia.
The residents are quarantined in their rooms and have been unable to take showers in recent days because they don’t have showers in their rooms, she said.
Kirkland’s Northshore Community Church sent flowers to the residents, said Lombard, who’s been caring for about 15 residents and who’s been trying to call their relatives to share news.
The nurse said she and other employees are wearing gowns, masks and face shields while caring for residents. Because Life Care has enacted a no-visitors policy, some relatives have been peering in windows to see their loved ones, Lombard said.